Storytelling Matters

The Live Art and the Power of Words

Archive for the tag “power of storytelling”

Two Ways Storytelling and Yoga are Alike

Blogger Tresca Weinstein wonders why she can’t do her yoga practice at home. In a thoughtful gem of an article, she examines this question. Her intriguing insights about yoga are also super relevant to the power of storytelling.

With over 20 years of yoga classes under her agile belt, Tresca finds that the group class experience is starkly different from solo practice. Whenever she tries to practice at home, she feels empty and unengaged. But in group classes, Tresca feels the buzz – she bends and twists into vibrant shapes with more power and ease than she can at home. One might say that when she is in yoga class, her stretching is, well, stretched.

She explains it this way:

…yogis have known forever that something magical happens when people move, breathe, or meditate in sync. It’s an effect sometimes called entraining—when a group’s energy aligns, heightening the focus and awareness in the room. (A yoga teacher might call it “raising the vibration.”)

I love her explanation. It parallels how storytelling works. Magic really does happen when stories are told live in groups. The community of listeners is aligned in their emotional response to the story being told. Heightened awareness of other listeners and the emotional resonance impacts the way the story is told and heard. Listening to a story together raises the vibration of the storytelling experience.

It is not the same experience to listen to stories alone on headphones or to watch stories online. Even if the experience of online or digital storytelling is creative, interactive, and gorgeously artistic, it is different from listening live with others.

Imagine sitting by yourself at a table in a cafe watching a video on your phone or taking in a multimedia narrative on your computer. Imagine sucking in your breath at a tense or surprising moment in that digital story. Remember, you are the only one in that cafe experiencing that story – although there are other people in real space all around you, you are alone in that story world. Because of your solitary experience of the story, you are not as likely to suck in that breath as you might be if everyone else in the cafe were involved along with you.

So what happens if you bravely suck in your breath anyway? The resonance of that “sucking in moment” will be diminished because you are the only one doing it.

In an audience of one there is no one else to raise the vibration.

Tresca interviews a yoga teacher, and together, they share this meaty tidbit:

Among the “three jewels” of Buddhist mindfulness teachings—buddha (awakening), dharma (the path, or teachings), and sangha (a community of like-minded practitioners)—“the Buddha taught that the most important was sangha,” she said. “We’re part of a 2,500-year-old tradition of gathering together to practice.”

Storytelling, like yoga, is an old tradition built on gathering together. The “sangha” of storytelling – experiencing a story in the same time and space as others – is an experience that elevates narrative and community. I mean if the Buddha thinks this is important…

So does this mean that solitary consumption of online storytelling is no good? No way! Human beings want and need stories in all forms and forums. The creative doorways that technology have opened for us are groundbreaking and brilliant. We can and should embrace narrative online, onscreen, on paper, and wherever else we find it – including onstage or in the living room, with a storyteller and other listeners.

If you haven’t done it lately, jump into an audience and listen to stories told live. Remind yourself how it feels to raise the vibration and revel in the sangha of storytelling.

**********************************
Copyright 2015 The Storycrafters. All rights reserved.

Photo Attribution: By Jessmcintyre (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0) or GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

One Reason Storytellers Do What They Do

Fans of JK Rowling’s Weasley twins will be familiar with their joke shop product called “extendable ears.” With one end of a cord held close to the listener’s ear, the other end crawls along the ground, winding around corners and sliding under doors until it reaches its destination. Then, it listens to the secrets of unsuspecting friends and enemies alike. My son desperately wished for a set to use around the time of his birthday whenever we whispered about his gifts. There are probably numerous politicians, spies, and Academy Award nominees who would love a set as well.

Old-fashioned extendable ears

So why am I discussing this intriguing fictional product here? It is because stories reach and stretch into the human heart and mind like extendable ears stretch into other rooms. When people speak of the power of stories, this is what they mean.

Stories have a seemingly magical way of touching those who need them. They sneak in the cracks and openings of heart and mind and do their work: stories heal, stories connect one to another, they teach and ignite dreams.

But the work of stories is gentle. They seep into people like a mild rain softens dry soil. The images and messages embedded in stories, like water moistening dry soil, find their ways to their destination. This is one of the biggest reasons why we do the work that we do.

Stories reach in.
____________
Copyright 2014 The Storycrafters

Anybody with stories about stories doing this work? Share them (way) down below!

Reimagining Beauty – C is for Confidence

Blogging A to Z

Here we are, day three in April, letter C. Thanks for reading, liking, commenting, sharing, and all of that stuff!

**********

C is for Confidence

Last month I saw an online science news video that I can’t get out of my mind. Like an eye worm, it plays and replays again and again in my head. I do not remember the story or where I found it. What is etched in my mind’s eye is the reporter. She wasn’t at all like all those classic cookie cutter news anchors with coiffed blond hair and perfectly pressed clothes. Though she had a different look than them, it wasn’t her hair or clothes or shape that made her memorable.

She exuded pure confidence. Comfortable and centered in who she was, her self-assurance spiraled through cyberspace into my laptop. It was she, not the screen, that cast a glow in my livingroom.

Confidence is riveting. Being in the presence of true, authentic, confidence is like drinking a powerful infusion of vitamins from a glass of freshly juiced greens.

It wasn’t her ego. She didn’t purvey an ounce of conceit. She was filled with an abundance of joy and comfort in who she was. It was beautiful, it was stunning.

In describing beautiful folk – whether you are conversing with friends or crafting language for a story that you write or tell – don’t forget about this quality. It is a quality that anyone can possess, regardless of their looks, their genetic code, or background. It is a quality that anyone can find beautiful in anyone.

And the best thing? Try being in a room with a confident person. It is contagious.

So, can one come across beauteous confidence in real life people? Certainly, I just told you all about a real life newscaster. Can a protagonist in a story be attracted to another because of her or his confidence? Of course. Just tell about it confidently, describe it winningly, and you will depict a character who is attractive as a friend, as a lover, and as a role model for the people in your audiences and personal lives. By doing so, you will remind people that when they tap into and trust their sense of self, that is much more beautiful than what can be coiffed in a mirror.

Who are the confident beauties who you know in life and literature? I would love to hear about them!

**********

Copyright 2014 The Storycrafters. All rights reserved.

Reimagining Beauty – B is for Brilliance

Blogging A to Z

Hey it’s Letter B! This blog challenge has been a blast (b is also for blast). In addition to the A to Z posts, I am working on expanding the reach of the blog beyond its current scope. I really need to add RSS stuff… any WordPressers out there who are willing to share suggestions, I’d appreciate it! You can contact me here or through my website, http://www.storycrafters.com. Many thanks 🙂

But first, I hope you read the B post!!

**********
B is for Brilliance

I once had a crush on a college professor. His brilliance filled me with wonder. When his eyes flashed with understanding, it was invigorating. Seeing his facial expression shift while his mind hurtled forward through a zany analytical roller coaster was one of the most exhilarating things I witnessed during a slogging educational dip in my life. As I sat there in his classroom I learned that a brilliant mind is a seriously beautiful thing.

That Eureka moment, when an idea explodes to life in someone’s brain, can be read on that someone’s face. It is like flicking the light on in a darkened room and, at the same time, experiencing immense joy at opening a long anticipated gift. Brilliant moments like that are beautiful to behold.

Life informs stories and stories inform life. In retelling an old story with a plot that hinges on a man and a woman coming together, I decided to make a shift in that plot point. I rejected the idea that her physical appearance was the thing about her that caught fire for him. Instead of noticing her outward appearance, my protagonist was jazzed by her inward intelligence. She stood out from a host of many other young women when he recognized her cleverness.

In his view, she was a brilliant young woman. Her beauty was all about her quickness of mind. He was not threatened by it; he welcomed it and applauded it.

That’s how we chose to tell the story.

So when you choose to tell your stories, remember this quality. Remember it when you think about people you know in life, recall it about characters you know in literature, consider it when you write or when you tell your friends and family about someone who is beautiful.

Anyone, of any age or background, can have Eureka moments and be invigoratingly beautiful to themselves and to others.

**********
Copyright 2014 The Storycrafters. All rights reserved.

Reimagining Beauty – A is for Actions

Blogging A to Z

April 1st is Letter A Day! Welcome to my first A to Z Blogging Challenge post. I am very excited to be doing this and I look forward to meeting many folk along the way.

**********

There is a story in our repertoire about a young woman is who ravishingly beautiful. Every character in the tale recognizes her beauty. Audiences who hear the story know that she embodies beauty in all its fullness.

Yet we never once say what she looks like.

Instead, we paint pictures about how she acts in her world. Compassion runs through her like a vein of golden ore; it shines up her every gesture. Other characters in the story take note of the beauty of what she does and how she acts. They say she is beautiful, through and through.

Like her nasty sister, she has choices. But unlike her nasty sister, who chooses ugly actions, our protagonist chooses to carve a path of beauty through life. She cares for her ill mother, helps those in need, brings comfort and beauty to everyone she meets. By touching her world with beauty, she shows that she is beautiful.

Characters in stories have choices in how they live and how to behave in relation to others. How they act can be beautiful. Characters in life are no different. Mother Teresa was a beautiful person who is remembered not so much for what she looked like, but for the great good that she did in the world. And she is remembered as a beautiful person.

So, when you write or tell any story or anecdote, remember that you have the power to describe beautiful characters not by how they look, but by what they do. When characters meet in stories, show them recognizing beauty in each other’s actions. One doesn’t have to look a certain way or weigh a certain amount to achieve that kind of beauty. By depicting beauty in actions, you will help others to reimagine and value beauty in a new way. That will make it possible for everyone to be beautiful to ourselves and others.

Take a beautiful action yourself. When you write or tell any kind of story, describe your beautiful character by what she or he does. That way, you encourage those who read or hear your story to see that beauty is as beauty does, and that anyone can be beautiful in what they do.

Looking forward to the letter B!

**********

Copyright 2014 The Storycrafters All rights reserved.

Blogging from A to Z April Challenge

Blogging A to Z

Hey, I’m doing something neat next month! A group of bloggers (nearly 1500 as I write this post) will blog every day in April, except Sundays. Starting on April 1 with the letter A and going forward to the end of the month with the letter Z at the end of April 30, bloggers will write daily posts on the same letter. Over the month it will be like savoring alphabet soup, one noodle at a time. People say it is great fun, so I’m raring to go.

You can read more about it here.

Many bloggers who do this challenge orient their blogs to a theme. And today is the big Theme Reveal.

My theme is Reimagining Beauty.

One of the most beautiful children I have ever seen is a little girl. She was born with a genetic syndrome that among other things, alters the way she looks. It got me to thinking about the images of beauty that she will encounter in her life. Will she feel excluded? My recent blog posts have touched on this and other related issues, and there are more to come.

But when the A to Z Challenge came my way, I thought that it would be great opportunity to really dig down into this issue. So I decided to focus on how anyone – storytellers, writers, people in everyday conversation, parents – anyone has the power to describe beauty inclusively, regardless of cultural background, body type, age, abilities, or what their physical appearance has or “lacks” in terms of media driven imagery. Because that stuff is not what matters or makes one beautiful. At least that’s my take on it.

Storytellers know that words have great power to change mood and mind. My blog series on Reimagining Beauty will focus on the words we can choose to redefine and reimagine beauty in ways that are inclusive of anyone.

It will be one fun roller-coaster ride through the month of April.

***************

Copyright 2014 The Storycrafters All rights reserved

Heroism Through Stories

Have you heard about Antoinette Tuff? She is the bookkeeper who single handedly talked down a gunman in a Georgia school. Living up to the spirit of her name, she was alone with him for an hour. Yet calmly and compassionately, she talked to him, drew him out, made a personal connection to him and his life. Although Ms. Tuff claims that the credit for her success lies solely with God, there may be an additional, worldly contribution to her success as well.

“I just started telling him stories,” she said.

Storytellers have always claimed that the power of storytelling can be momentous. Therapists and others who use stories in healing work have seen it first hand. Organizations like Alcoholics Anonymous and related self-help groups are predicated on the telling of stories to heal self and others. Antoinette Tuff told her own stories as a way to make a connection with the gunman, and in so doing, she probably saved many lives.

Honor this woman. Listen to her tell the story of this event. She is heroic in every sense of the word.

And tell your stories too – you never know, a story you tell may save a life.

Post Navigation

%d bloggers like this: